MIA wrote something noteworthy, so instead of commenting on it, I thought I’d share it with everyone:
I rarely if ever cross post. But this time I am. I really tried hard to keep the invectives down. There are a lot of types who try to intellectualize the game and in so doing, really lack context in understanding sport in America. I suppose it is because so many are nihilist and self centered in their world view, and in so doing will excuse all kinds of ridiculous behavior from others, just so long as it is not their own ox that is getting gored. Anyway here it is.
A team consists of players. At the MLB level, specifically, players coaches, manager and trainers. These are guys that are suited up. This is what you need to play the game.
Add suits and now you have a franchise. Suits need players to have a franchise. Players do not need suits to field a team. A franchise needs fans. A team does not need fans. By that I mean two teams of 9 players each with equipment and a field can play the game. Anytime, anyplace. Without owners. Without a “Ballpark Experience.” As has been happening for over 150 years. It happens someplace in the world everyday. And there are no owners nor fans. A few close friends, or family maybe. Thats it.
Guys that come up in the game know this. Most guys who play this game never play in front of crowds of more than a few hundred. For the truly gifted and fortunate, maybe a trip to the College Worlds Series, and some AAA ballparks. But by and large, baseball is not played in front of many fans, until MLB – which is why it is called “The Show.”
It is at this point that fans enter into the picture. And right in front of them are the guys waiting to take their money. It is no coincidence, this confluence of “fans” and “ownership.” Owners came about when they saw an opportunity to make money off a game. An opportunity to sell an illusion to fans and extend the illusion beyond childhood They organized leagues and took over the administrative duties of running baseball teams from the guys who actually played the game.
These guys evolved into the modern owner of today. Not good enough to play, but country-club rich enough and compelled enough to inject themselves into the game. Clever enough, and political enough to manipulate their way into positions of power. Not with baseball talent nor an inculcation of baseball culture, but with money and influence. Owners, who in exchange for providing team clerical and administrative duties for players, swindle large municipalities out of real estate, build a moat around the real estate, then charge “fans” money to cross the moat and watch “the show.” Some of the money actually finds it’s way into the hands of the players who are mostly looked upon as performers in a media-driven, dehumanizing process that is designed to maximize revenue, and minimize expenses.
Bud Selig, George Steinbrenner, Jeffrey Loria, Charlie Finley, Charlie Comisky, George W. Bush, David Glass, Carl Pohlad, Frank and Jamie McCourt, Ken Kendricks and now Peter Magowan. All of whom came into the game with a groupie-like enthusiasm to be part of the process. Like some White House Intern, all giddy and wide-eyed to be in the presence of what they could never be. And when the sheen wears off, and the novelty of being an “insider” loses its appeal. And when the reality that hanging out with your idols does not make you an idol sets in, then the bitterness and envy that seethed beneath the surface, begins to build and eventually oozes its way to the surface.
We fans have been fortunate to have two really good and one pretty good ownership groups in the Bay Area. The Haas family when they rescued the A’s from the loathsome and cruel Charlie Finley, and Eddie DeBartolo being the former in that they treated fans with respect and provided championship ball. Horace Stoneham ran out of money, but he was a baseball man steeped in the culture of baseball. A rarity for one who never played the game. The Giants teams of the 60s were some of the best to ever compete in the National League. During the 18 year period of his stewardship in San Francisco, he gave us Five Hall of Famers, and the father of perhaps the greatest player of all time: Willie Mays, Willie McCovey, Juan Marichal, Gaylord Perry, Orlando Cepeda, and Bobby Bonds. Peter Magowan, self-styled baseball expert has given us, a castle with a moat, usuriously priced admission, concessions and parking and a “ballpark experience” rivaled only by Alcatraz Tours and take-out crab cocktails at Fisherman’s Wharf.
I also think he’s going to paint one of his overpriced bleacher seats a special color to commerorate some event or something.
The team consists of players and a franchise consists of a team plus the supporting cast who control the money. And I never confuse the two. The supporting cast to me is not relevant except what they do to enhance the ability of the team to compete for championships. Other than that, they are non-productive pariahs at worst, a logistical necessity at best. But its really about the players. Who even in the end of their careers are greatly talented individual professional athletes and do routinely on a daily basis what we can only dream about doing if only for once in our life. Most of us have much respect for the care, dedication to, development of, and exposition of that talent. And we wish to remember that talent and honor that talent and pass that respect along to our children and grandchildren. The good and the bad.
Others of small mind and pettiness of character choose to surrender to their innermost smallness. Too late they realize that not a one of us will ever pay a dime to watch them do their jobs. And they eventually fade away into their smallness and bitterness, their massive insecurities and egomania consuming them in the end.
For Magowan to say and do the things he is doing smacks of Dick Cheney. When asked, politely for his thoughts when informed that 2/3 of the American people disapprove of the way this administration is running the Iraq war his response was: “So?” And does anybody think Magowan’s answer would be any different when informed that most Giants fans disapprove of the way he is treating Barry Bonds?
No. I won’t be spending anytime at all there. I will not voluntarily spend money or patronize an enterprise that I find ethically and morally reprehensible. I will root for the players. I will enjoy Kruk and the gang. And I will enjoy the actual games themselves. It took four years for Magowan to finally reveal himself to be the snake I started maintaining he was in 2003. I would rather he had proved me wrong.
Not much for me to add, really. I remember when Magowan ran Dusty out of town because he felt like he wasn’t getting enough credit. That was the beginning of the end, right there. The last four years has been an almost non-stop slide into obscurity.